To the left of The Haunt‘s swinging doors, The Japanese House‘s merch and vinyls line the wall. The summer-bleached Polaroids that adorn the front covers of the records make it look as if Amber Bain’s personal flick-book of memories has been dismantled and displayed for exhibition, but the images seemingly snapped on sunlit jaunts are worlds away from the converted cinema’s pitch-black decor and matching aura.
Remarkably, the 20-year-old’s otherworldly art pop fits both starkly contrasting environments, and feels just as at home emanating from a dim-lit bar on an inky night as it would seeping from the leaky earphones of someone sprawled supine in a park on a ray-soaked afternoon.
Tonight is the last of the Londoner’s headline tour before setting off in support of label-mates The 1975 and she sounds incredible, showcasing a set that is a Rubix Cube of samples, fidgety electronica and triple-tracked vocoder-like vocals, with synths that surge, swell and swirl like the billowy sea that’s just a stone’s throw away from the venue’s entrance.
A thin veil of smoke hangs in front of the stage throughout obstructing her view and possibly thwarting more interaction, but The Japanese House live are way more of an aural experience than a visual one. Bain is a shy and static presence, though her musical execution is at all times flawless; ‘Pools To Bathe In’ strolls majestically before a pulsating bassline interjects alongside eye-widening white strobes, ‘Sugar Pill’ is an eclectic and cinematic slice of future pop that shape-shifts and soars and ‘Cool Blue’ is abrim with technicolour melodies and 80s glow. At the centre of it all is her not so secret weapon; Bain’s lush voice is dazzling, coming over like Imogen Heap cooing down Bon Iver‘s comb-filtered mic.